A proposed Venice Beach Boardwalk ordinance establishing a “permit program” for performers and artists on the west side of the Ocean Front Walk boardwalk was unanimously opposed by the Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council Monday, September 27th.

The ordinance establishing the permit program would contain the following provisions supported by the Los Angeles City Department of Recreation and Parks Board of Commissioners:

– Persons wishing to conduct public expression activities on the west side of the Venice Beach Boardwalk would have to apply for and be issued a “public expression permit,” valid for life, unless revoked, with a one-time charge of $25.

The permit would be non-transferable and performers and artists would be required to obtain use of a designated location on the boardwalk.

– Designated spaces would be marked and numbered on the boardwalk, with ten-by-eight-foot spaces for general public expression and 20-by-eight-foot spaces for persons expressing themselves through performance.

There would be 62 public expression spaces and 44 performance spaces.

Anyone wishing to use space on the boardwalk for public expression would have to be in an assigned and designated space with a permit in their possession.

– A lottery would be held at the end of each month to assign spaces for general expression or performance for the coming month.

In the case of more permit holders in the lottery than spaces, those not receiving an assigned space after all the spaces are assigned would not be allowed to make space for themselves on the boardwalk and would have to wait until the next lottery.

– There would be no set-up or activity on the boardwalk between dusk and 9 a.m.

– No structures, furniture, canopies, tents or umbrellas over four feet in height or with more than two sides would be allowed.

– Recreation and Parks staff would manage the program, which would include the set-up, day-end, and periodic inspections to ensure compliance with the regulations.

For the first violation of one of the regulations, a violator would receive a warning.

A second violation would warrant a suspension of the permit.

For a series or third violation, the permit could be revoked for a one-year period before re-application.

At the Venice Neighborhood Council meeting September 27th, a Venice Beach Boardwalk vendor told Neighborhood Council members and others in attendance about what she alleges to be “harassment” by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).

The vendor said that LAPD officers have bent her jewelry into crosses and have told her that a religious symbol needs to be on the jewelry if she wants to continue to display and sell it on the boardwalk.

Sandy Kievman, Venice area deputy to City Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, said the rules and regulations of the permit program would be administered and enforced by Department of Parks and Recreation staff.

The permit program is intended to “ease tensions for persons wishing space on the boardwalk, reduce commotion and overcrowding among persons and enhance the ability of police officers to readily ascertain persons not conforming to the Municipal Code,” said Manuel Mollinedo, City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks general manager.

The proposed ordinance will be brought before the Los Angeles City Council as an agenda item Wednesday, October 27th.

COUNCIL FUNDING — Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council treasurer Jim Smith announced at the council’s general meeting September 27th that the Los Angeles Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) has informed the Grass Roots council that it would be permitted to submit an annual proposed budget, thus allowing the group to expend funds from the City of Los Angeles once annually, rather than quarterly.

The Department of Neighborhood Empowerment is allowing all Neighborhood Councils to submit an annual proposed budget.

Expenditures that Smith expects the proposed budget to include costs for a child day-care facility in Venice, one quarterly town hall meeting at the cost of about $2,000 per meeting, a part-time office employee for the council to field calls for the Neighborhood Council at the Vera Davis Center, signs where Grass Roots agendas and information could be posted and newsletters to the public.

Smith also suggested the possibility of funds being spent on transportation needs — to get Venice stakeholders to and from Grass Roots meetings and events.

“We have to avoid fighting for money,” Smith said.

Smith added that if Venice were a city, it would be eligible to receive about $5 million, rather than $50,000.

“This may be an insidious plot by the city to get us fighting with each other,” Smith sarcastically suggested.

Smith said he would like to see the Neighborhood Council allocate more money for community projects.

The Grass Roots financial report for January 2004 through September 2004 indicates that the Neighborhood Council spent nearly $3,000 for election costs, $2,551 for general operations, $2,185 for meetings, $1,610 on communications and technology, and $1,098 on community projects.

“We have to be very considerate of everybody and their projects,” said Smith. “We have to come together and compromise.”

“$50,000 is like a family budget,” he said.